Tag Archives: Psalm 95

Growing old, or growing up?

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah….

(Ps 95.6-8)

“Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: should you not fear me?” declares the Lord.

(Jer 5.21)

“I could not address you as spiritual but as wordly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.

(1Cor 3.1-3)

I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again….so come on, let’s leave the preschool finger-painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place…God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. but there’s so much more. Let’s get on with it!

(Heb 5.11-6.3: The Message; Eugene Peterson)

Much as we may enjoy and even cherish the infant stages of life, we would be deeply disturbed if they never passed into something else – it would be a sign that something was wrong, and cause for great concern. We are designed to grow up, to mature, to become capable of bearing responsibility and in time, nurturing the next generation. This is just as much true in our spiritual lives, as in our human bodies, as these words from an understandably exasperated apostle illustrate!

Each of us must make our own response to God’s word – we are charged to work out what God is saying to us, and then to do it. We are commanded to meditate on the word, letting it dwell in our hearts so that our thoughts and actions are transformed. God’s word can be resisted, we can close our hears and minds to his loving command and if we do so long enough, we become unable to hear him.

Is this not a terrifying prospect? I don’t believe that I can fall utterly away from God’s safe keeping, but I long to be found responsible in my handling of all the good gifts which I have received, to know that I have glorified God by bringing every aspect of my life under his command to be used as he pleases.

The bible teaches us in so many ways, that God is continually seeking to draw his people closer to him in faith and obedience, and that it is through their witness that his name is honoured. The people of Israel brought dishonour on God when they doubted him in the desert after leaving Egypt; they dishonoured him when they turned again and again to the worship of idols; they dishonoured him when – in Jesus’ day – they worshipped the observance of the law and temple procedure instead of the holy One himself. Am I bringing dishonour on Jesus by refusing to let him work out his purposes inĀ  my life, closing my mind to what he says?

As a ransomed, new-created and holy child of God, I am called to grow out of my infant diet; to progress from the early stages of understanding my new position to working out in detail just what difference God makes in my life, and how he does it. Mine should be a mature faith which can stand the test and grow, stepping forward to embrace trials as a means by which God shows his love and manifests his glory. It is maturing faith which can step into positions of responsibility, and be entrusted with the pastoral care of others. It is mature faith which can say with Job – “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him”

I know that the days, months and years which God has yet for me will include difficult times, pain and suffering – my own, that of my loved ones and of the wider world. I do not want to be like a vulnerable infant, dependant on the people around me to look after me, but rather a responsible adult, one who can do the task for which God has called and enabled me. I want to grow up in my faith as I grow old in my body, making the most of the time that I am granted to serve my gracious God as faithfully as I can.

May God keep my spirit soft to receive his teaching, and my ears sensitive to his voice. Although I may weary of my own imperfections and repeated failings, God does not give up on me, and I ask for a persevering spirit to continue to grow in faith and to press on towards the glory which he has promised.

Answering my fearfulness..

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

(Ps 95. 3-7)

I have mentioned in this blog before that I am not an ambitious or driven sort of person, and I have never had a burning desire to pursue a particular career or line of study. I have enjoyed working in the past, and found my studies rewarding, but have no desire to return to the profession which once was mine. I have been blessed with the raising of two children, the care of a lovely home and a garden, and have many friends and church family with whom I share much of my life.. And yet I am conscious of a sense of unease, uncertainty, a haunting fear that somehow I have failed to use the gifts and opportunities given me in the way that God desires.

In two years, my daughter will be finished school, and my role as mother-at-home will be over. What then? Does God want me to go on being quietly busy with many small tasks, loving people, listening and caring as I can; or is it time to embark upon something bigger, something new, which will change the pattern of my life? When you recall my lack of ambition, this kind of dilemma is a particularly tricky one to resolve, as I really have no idea what I could be doing instead!

The real point of this though is that I am in danger of letting myself believe that my lack of career/achievement indicates a lack of significance or status, or worth. I am being tempted to think that if I became as busy and super-efficient as many of my friends, then somehow I would be doing better with my life – is that necessarily true?

The bible states over and over that my worth derives from the price which God – my maker – puts upon me; and in the death of Jesus on the cross that price is written large enough for even me to see! I am worth the blood of the precious son of God, there was no higher price which could be paid. I am incapable of making myself more precious to God by anything I do!

So if my worth derives from God’s incredible love for me, not my achievements, how can I know what is the right thing to do with my time and talents in the days and years ahead? Am I to continue to be content with the mosaic of small, beautiful and relatively undemanding jobs which I currently fulfill? Or is it necessary to make some big changes, perhaps to return to study?

This dilemma is not ultimately mine to solve , and if I can learn to keep handing it over to the God whose business it is to guide and shepherd his flock, then I will find the peace I crave as I wait and look for the way ahead. Will I not trust that the Great Shepherd is able to show a willing sheep the way it should go?! Do I not really believe that He has my best interests at heart, and that these will be for His glory as well as my blessing?

This is my challenge for the days and months ahead. To wait upon God with hope and expectation that He can and will make the path clear for me, in His good time, and until then to continue in a spirit of contentment with my life as He currently directs it. Active waiting does not come very easily to us, we want immediate answers and direction for the future. But perhaps in the waiting itself, God is doing something very significant in our hearts and our relationship with Him. Faith that has not learned to trust in God’s silences, in times of apparent inactivity, is vulnerable. By contrast, the trust and peace demonstrated in the lives of those who have learnt to wait in hope for God is incredibly attractive and a powerful witness to the work of God in their hearts.

May I be given the strength each day to wait in hope, to trust that God will do what He promises to do, and to let my fears be silenced by the song of His love for me which He pours into my ear at all times.